Golf now has a modern set of rules for the Royal & Ancient game, an extensive overhaul that took six years and is aimed at making the rules easier to understand.
The R&A and USGA announced the final version of modernized rules on Monday. They take effect in 2019.
“This was out of recognition that in trying to make the rules more fair, they became too complicated,” said Thomas Pagel, the USGA's senior director of rules and amateur status. “With 30-plus years of tinkering, they got complicated, and that wasn't good for the game.”
Among the changes will be how to take penalty drops – from knee-high length starting next year. There no longer will be penalties if a golf ball accidentally moves on the green, if a club touches the ground in a hazard or if the ball hits a flagstick that is not being tended on the green.
Also, caddies can no longer line up their players while they are setting up over a shot.
This is the most comprehensive change to the rules since the first set was published in 1744, only in this case, the book got smaller. There now are 24 rules instead of 34, and “The Official Guide to the Rules of Golf” replaces about 1,300 examples in the Decisions book.
One rule is only for recreational golf. Starting next year, a local rule will let golfers simply drop a ball that goes out-of-bounds in the vicinity of where it went out – even if that means the fairway – with an additional two-shot penalty.
Other changes include:
• Eliminating penalties for accidentally moving a ball on the green or while searching for a lost ball.
• Players will have only three minutes to search for a lost ball instead of five minutes.
• Players now can repair spike marks or shoe prints on the putting green.
• Eliminating the penalty for removing loose impediments in a bunker and the general touching of sand with the hand or club (without grounding the club next to the ball).
The rules are available at www.usga.org/rules or at www.RandA.org.
Tiger's run fuels ratings
Tiger Woods was one shot away from a chance to win, and the PGA Tour had its largest television audience in five years.
NBC Sports Group says the final round of the Valspar Championship earned a 5.11 overnight rating, up 190 percent over the previous year and the highest-rated PGA Tour broadcast since Woods won The Players Championship in 2013. That doesn't include the majors.
Also, Woods and Ernie Els will be named captains in the Presidents Cup. Two people involved in the Presidents Cup told The Associated Press that Woods and Els have agreed for the 2019 matches in Melbourne. Woods and Els are expected to be introduced as captains Tuesday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.